Some Miscellaneous Micromoths

2012 June 30

I’ve been accumulating pictures of tiny little moths for a while now. And, as I’ve noted in the past, these little guys are pretty numerous and really hard to get good IDs on. So, this post is devoted to all the little moths that I don’t have many good pictures of, don’t know what their caterpillars were like, and probably won’t be able to identify beyond the family.

Well, OK, maybe I have an idea of what this first one is, that I photographed on April 27, 2010. It looks like an Aspen Leaf Blotch Miner Moth, but the only reason I know this is because I raised one up from a larva once, so I knew what its food plant was. And we have a lot of aspen trees around the house that were heavily infested with leaf miners that year.

This next one, from June 1, 2010, I don’t know about, though. It looks like a Crambine Snout Moth.

And then there’s this one, also from June 1, 2010, which I have no clue about. It’s just a greyish-white moth without anything that strikes me as being a characteristic pose or shape. Do you have any idea how many moth species match that description? Me neither, but it is more than a few, that’s for sure.

These next two at least have a characteristic pose going for them. Their pose suggests that they are relatives of the Aspen Leaf Blotch Miner, in the family Gracillariidae. This family consists of several hundred of species of moths that tend to rest in that odd stance where their head is elevated, and the trailing edge of their wings is pressed against the surface they are resting on. I expect this helps them camouflage themselves as buds on tree branches. I have one photographed on June 1, 2010:

and one photographed on July 3, 2011, which is similar enough to maybe be the same species, but different enough that maybe it isn’t. Without knowing what kind of plant their caterpillars were mining the leaves of, I really don’t have a good way to be sure.

And then, finally, we have this one, from August 1, 2010. Which once again has no obvious features that I can point to and say, “Well, this moth is clearly a prime example of ‘X’!” It did photograph pretty decently, though.

(Edit: I have found out what it is. It is a Lucerne Moth, Nomophila nearctica. More on this in a later post.)

So, anyway, if anyone happens to know whether any of these can be identified more precisely, I’m all ears. I don’t really expect much, though. I mainly just wanted to point out, once again, that for every insect that can be quickly and reliably identified to species from photographs, there are probably a hundred that can only be teased out by an expert with a microscope, a pile of references, and maybe a DNA analysis.

4 Responses
  1. June 30, 2012

    The top one looks like a seed pod from some of the wild grass around here. Great photos as always!

  2. July 1, 2012

    Yep. And I suspect that is exactly what we are *supposed* to think it is, since I think these are some of the many tiny little moths that flush up as we walk through the tall grass out back.

  3. July 2, 2012

    These moths look like insect models wearing ballgowns. The last model looks very glamorous in that gold Egyptian-scarab evoking outfit. Very regal poses on July 3, 2011 moth — which also looks as if it was readying itself for lift-off. The grayish white moth from June 1, 2010 looks very shifty eyed and criminal. I’d not want him on the back deck light.

    I’d never realized that the tiny moths around the porch light were this varied in population. We’ve tons of aspens trees nearby (Edmonton, Alberta) and I’ve never seen any of these moths. I must be blind.

  4. July 2, 2012

    Thanks, Julie

    I didn’t realize that there were so many different kinds, either, until I started photographing them and blowing up the pictures enough to see details. To the naked eye, these all look a lot like bits of windblown chaff that happen to have stuck to the wall near the porch light.

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